Computed tomography (CT) scan

A computed tomography (CT) angiogram can help the specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute better understand the structure of your child’s heart and the surrounding vessels. Aside from an X-ray, the CT angiogram is the most commonly used procedure for evaluating the inside of a child’s chest.

A CT scan uses a low level of radiation. The radiologists at Norton Children’s are trained and experienced at setting the sophisticated equipment so that it uses the least amount of radiation necessary.

The test is fast and painless. It produces multiple, cross-section images of the inside of the body. We use CT angiograms to capture very detailed pictures of the heart and blood vessels in children, even babies.

The CT machine looks like a large doughnut. Your child will lie on a table that moves through the hole in the “doughnut.” Your children will need to hold still for a short time during the test. Because of this, young children may need to be sedated (asleep). If your child needs sedation, a specialist in pediatric anesthesia will provide this service.

A child’s CT angiogram requires that we use a substance called contrast material that helps the pictures show up better. Your child may receive the contrast material intravenously (through an IV). The contrast material contains iodine, so if you know your child has an iodine allergy, tell your doctor before you schedule the test.

Allergic reactions to the contrast material are rare and almost always minor, such as mild itching or hives. Norton Children’s radiologists are prepared to swiftly take care of allergic reactions. If your child becomes lightheaded or has trouble breathing during the test, tell the technologist or nurse right away.

It’s normal for your child to feel a warm sensation when the contrast material is injected and a metallic taste in the mouth for a few minutes.

Norton Children’s uses CT angiograms on children only when they are essential for making a diagnosis. We will avoid repeating CT scans unless absolutely necessary to limit radiation exposure to your child.

How to prepare for a child’s CT scan

  • Tell your doctor about your child’s allergies and any medications your child takes.
  • Tell your doctor and the technologist if you know your child is allergic to the contrast material.
  • Dress your child in loose, comfortable clothing.
  • Your child may not be allowed to eat or drink anything before the test, especially if your child will be sedated.
  • If your child has been ill recently, we likely will not use anesthesia.

Why Norton Children’s Heart Institute?

Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, is a comprehensive pediatric heart surgery, heart failure and heart transplant program serving Kentucky, Southern Indiana and beyond.

The goal of the full-service Norton Children’s Heart Institute is to provide care for the child and the whole family. Our specialists are prepared to repair even the most complex congenital and acquired heart conditions.

Our heart team includes:

  • Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons
  • Pediatric transplant surgeons
  • Pediatric cardiologists
    • Fetal cardiologists
    • Adult congenital heart cardiologists
    • Heart failure/heart transplant cardiologists
    • Pediatric electrophysiologists
    • Pediatric cardiac catheterization cardiologists
  • Pediatric cardiovascular anesthesiologists
  • Pediatric intensive care physicians
  • Cardiac critical care nurses
  • Critical care pharmacists
  • Family support team
  • Child life specialists
  • Rehabilitation specialists
  • Social workers
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Norton Children’s Heart Institute

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(502) 629-2929

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